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The AGA Foundation invests in gastroenterology's future

Bethesda, Maryland (June 25, 2008) The Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition has announced the 2008 American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Foundation Student Research Fellowship Awards. The Student Research Fellowship Awards program was created by the AGA more than a decade ago to stimulate interest in gastroenterological (GI) research careers in high school, college and medical school students.

"There is an urgent need to help ensure that the youth who are the future of scientific research receive the encouragement and support they need to enter research careers," noted Sidney Cohen, MD, AGAF, Chairman of the Foundation. "Our Foundation has recognized the need to begin fostering an interest in the field at the earliest point in a student's academic career and to help them lay the groundwork for a successful research career."

The Student Research Fellowship Awards provides students with necessary support to fund a 10-week session of research in digestive diseases or nutrition under the supervision of an approved preceptor. Preceptors are AGA members who serve as full-time faculty members at accredited North American institutions.

The 2008 AGA Foundation The Eli and Edythe Broad Student Research Fellowships for high school students are:

  • Devin Boe, New Trier High School, Winnetka, IL who will be studying at University of Chicago.
  • Richard Li, River Hill High School, Howard County, MD, who will be studying at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
  • Yunzhou Li, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School, Richmond, VA, who will be studying at Virginia Commonwealth University.
  • Stephanie Owyang, Greenhills School, Ann Arbor, MI, who will be studying at the University of Michigan.
  • Hannah Turner, New Trier High School, Winnetka, IL, who will be studying at University of Chicago.

Additional recipients of the Student Research Fellowship Awards include:

  • Amber L. Alhadeff, University of Pennsylvania
  • Gregory J. Botwin, University of California at San Diego
  • Jeeyeon M. Cha, University of Cincinnati
  • Gayan S. DeSilva, University of Michigan
  • Yonah B. Esterson, University of Pennsylvania
  • Christie M. Gutierrez, University of Pennsylvania
  • Christina M. Hamm, Washington University School of Medicine
  • Aaron L. Hecht, University of Chicago
  • Yoon-Jung Hyun,Washington University School of Medicine
  • Archana P. Kanteti, University of Illinois
  • Shivani Katyal, University of Illinois
  • Michael E. Kim, University of Cincinnati
  • Joy J. Liu, Univeristy of Florida
  • Claudia G. Lopez, University of California at San Diego
  • Nishora Mahendraratnam, Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Christina A. Mosher, Washington University School of Medicine
  • Emmanuel C. Obusez, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University
  • Michelle E. Peiss, University of Chicago
  • Jessica Shiu, University of Maryland at Baltimore

A 2002 survey of past participants in the Foundation Student Research Fellowship Awards program showed that 93 percent were, in fact, pursuing careers in science or medicine. "We are aware of one high school grantee in particular who went to medical school and became a practicing gastroenterologist," Dr. Cohen noted.

Students interested in applying for AGA Foundation Student Research Fellowships can find more information on the foundation's Web site at

There are more than 300 digestive diseases that adversely affect the lives of more than 65 million Americans. Thirty percent of Americans suffer a gastroenterological illness each year, resulting in over 8 million hospital admissions and 30 million doctor visits. At least 40 million Americans are burdened with chronic digestive conditions that disrupt their lives. More Americans are hospitalized for digestive diseases than for any other type of illness. Nearly one in four cancer deaths is related to the digestive system. The annual costs associated with digestive diseases have continued to rise to an all time high of more than $85 billion and the magnitude of this problem is increasing rapidly. Since 1985, the number of people suffering digestive health problems in the United States has climbed by 20 percent. By 2025, our nation's average life expectancy will increase from 77 to 82 years. Because many digestive diseases occur as we age, their incidence may skyrocket.


Contact: Aimee Frank
American Gastroenterological Association

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